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alabaster

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Posts posted by alabaster


  1. While I appreciate the sympathy, in no way do I intend this to ever become about me -- my intent was to say, in a nutshell, that I personally would not have brought any guest I considered a risk, based on the available information -- and I hope I haven't inadvertently enabled someone to creep on others.  I'm not just talking about this situation, but all sorts of risk -- failure to show, difficult to manage on site, prone to lateness, etc. are all factors. But any credible complaint of that nature -- against ANY guest -- would put the guest off the table until things became clear.  "Keep your distance until things play out" is a pretty safe strategy for an event or organization. Convictions, indictments, etc. are easy to deal with. But there's a grey area filled with rumor that is much, much harder to navigate. 

    And I've defended people (Vic included) where I believed the attack to be unwarranted, or that it went against my direct experience with the person.  We have rarely had to put up with diva crap from ANY guest, and when it has happened that guest hasn't been back, or only came back when we'd reached an understanding about what was acceptable. And until quite recently, rumors about Vic were just that, fueled additionally by some fans who had issue with his public stand on his faith, or his take on certain characters.  He's not the only one with a hate-following. And that's before you get trolls and anon and other players in this space.

    But it's kind of important to note that absolutely everything changes when people go public, or otherwise get things on the record.   Saying "I'm not comfortable around XXX" isn't enough, without a reason. Saying "I heard he got handsy" is just rumor and rumors are not helpful. Cons can't and shouldn't act on hearsay and rumor.  Aside from adding to the risks involved, it's not really fair to anyone, and people do actively try to draw events into their personal dramas *all the time*. 

    I think you'll see many cons rolling out variations on two things, in the near future. First, a clear statement that con rules apply to guests as well -- plus a greater willingness to enforce it -- and second, contracts with a "bad behavior" clause that limits the risk events shoulder if they need to cancel because the guest has become a toxic figure.  Guests aren't cheap to have, and it's not a great situation if you un-invite someone for being, say, indicted for buying kiddy porn, but you have a legal obligation to pay him anyway.

     


  2. 1 hour ago, Aresef said:

    Thanks for sharing your perspective, Jim. It echoes what D.C. Douglas said the other day about reevaluating his own behavior, and what Adam Sheehan reflected on regarding what happened with Todd Haberkorn and his own responsibility.

    I think for me, I've come to my conclusions based on the specificity of the claims, the pattern revealed, Vic's own response and the reactions of his peers. You're not seeing these people coalesce around him. Rather, it's quite the opposite.

    I've seen the spreadsheet, and I'm ambivalent. It was used to go after Justin Sevakis based on somebody's grudge. However, it also allowed people to see Vic's name and a prominent fan's name and realize they weren't alone. If not for the spreadsheet, the whispers on him may still have been whispers. But I don't think ANN should take custody of the spreadsheet or anything like that because that's not the role of a news outlet. They would risk opening themselves up to liability.

    I think that however this all came to light, it's high time there was this kind of reckoning in the fandom, and time for a conversation about this behavior. It goes further than just saying the words "cosplay is not consent."

    Still, it's an uncomfortable position to be in.  Watching people I know go public about someone else I know doing bad things has been sobering. Questionable judgment calls are one thing, but documented and verifiable patterns and public accusations are another.  Once you know, or have reason to doubt, things change.

    For the reporting of such complaints, it doesn't have to be ANN, though it's not unusual for news organizations to provide a secure forum for whistleblowers. The point is it needs to be a trusted, known, third party. But I'm not volunteering. 

    Hell, I'm still mentally drained from the #metoo panel at Gallifrey last year and the conversations afterwards.


  3. Please note that this response is IN NO WAY OFFICIAL, and that I do not speak for Otakon on this matter at all. This is just me, and I've said some of this publicly but would prefer it not be shared.  (Though I know the leadership of Otakon is working behind the scenes to address these concerns.)

    This whole thing is incredibly disappointing. Both personally and professionally.   These are people I know, or at least I thought I did.  (I have even been Vic's handler at our Vegas show, and never had reason to believe the rumors about misconduct.)

    My personal take, as I've expressed elsewhere, is that this is just one huge mess with no wins for anyone.  

    Like many in similar roles, I find myself forced to re-evaluate people I've known for 10-15 years (because I have known Vic, Todd, and Jessie that long). The broad community is reacting in various ways, but the big fear everyone has is: did i miss something? did I unknowingly allow something bad to happen? Is this a case of perception or lies? Did someone avoid saying something because they assumed I'd take the guest's side?  

    I will say that I would never bring ANY guest for whom credible accusations of improper conduct had reached my ears. Nor would I have staff working under me for whom such claims had been made.  As far as I know, nothing happened under my watch, at my event, which is all I can control. Our handlers have been pretty good at subtly preventing awkward/inappropriate moments, but of course we can't monitor folks nonstop, and we aren't responsible for their actions when we're not with them.  The biggest complaint I'd heard with any legitimacy was one of diva behavior, but that simply didn't happen at Otakon -- or if it did, it was addressed and stopped. I hope we, and I, made the right call most of the time.

    You can't really make judgement calls based on rumor alone. There are always rumors, and there are always petty rivalries, and I've long felt that the best way to prevent that from being a factor is to not jump to react to such things, but instead evaluate situations based on credible reports.  But it's also true that the face *I* see, as a man and a convention runner for a large event, is not necessarily the face that others might see.  

    At this point, though, public accusations have been made, and that means they must (especially in the wake of #metoo) be taken seriously.  Celebrity (at any level) shouldn't be a pass to ignore this sort of thing.  There have been other guests (not naming any names) whom I chose to avoid, or not invite back, after credible complaints. There have been staff we've dismissed for inappropriate comments, much less anything worse. There have also been numerous attempts to involve the con in other drama -- bad breakups, jealous rivalries, etc. -- which have been mostly avoided.  

    That all said, I do have an issue with the spreadsheet itself, because it's not clear who's hosting it, or what controls are in place to prevent abuse.  I object to the idea of an unrestricted, anonymous spreadsheet, because it's so easy to abuse.  But if AnimeNewsNetwork or some other reputable group administered such a clearinghouse, I might be more inclined to support a similar tool for reporting.    


  4. With again the caveat that I'm not running things these days and the Ethan may have a different take....

    That muddy ground is one reason I actively avoided giving "fan guests" the GOH (guest of honor) nod for many years.  There are some fantastic folks out there doing excellent work, but there is definitely a distinction between folks who have "official" status within the industry, and those who don't. The challenge is to honor what they do without causing confusion or trouble with the pros.  (And quite a few of them have crossed into pro status, at which point we might change their listed status.)  It's just a cleaner distinction to make: did you go pro and legit with this? Once you have, then it's a much simpler call to make, because you're adding something significant to the whole deal.  This industry has a LOT of folks in it who started in the grey area and cowboy days, but now are legit, so it's not an unassailable wall.

    If you're running a smaller con, you want a larger list of guests and drawing Big Name Fans can make a big difference, and just as importantly, non-GOH level guests *tend* to only get badges and similar low-cost considerations.

    The questions we typically ask about any potential guest are:

    1. How does this guest advance our mission?  Remember, our mission is about cultural exchange, fundamentally, but certainly with a focus on pop culture. For people already actively involved in professional creation, localization, or distribution, either as production or talent, that's an easy one. For people in academic circles, pro speakers and authors like Roland Kelts and Fred Schodt, it's also an easy call to make.  Because we're a nonprofit, we need to be able to justify what we spend on our guests.
    2. What's their likely draw/appeal?  I've received requests for youtubers with a following in the dozens; that's an easy call. But we've also brought major voice actors and directors from Japan who draw a couple dozen folks at best.  Prestige and name value really kick in here. 
    3. How much content are they bringing?  I've never been a fan of "guests" who do nothing but sit in the dealer or artist halls and sell and sign stuff. That's why we typically require 2 panels or the equivalent from all our GOH guests.
    4. What's the cost of bringing and supporting them?  Japanese guests need bilingual interpreters to handle them, and cost a fair penny to bring. US guests (especially actors) typically have fees these days that range from bargains to tens of thousands of dollars.  Each of them needs a room and food, and that all adds up disturbingly fast.  OTOH, industry support can help mitigate those costs. About a third to half of all our guests come with some help from industry (not always financial); the rest are existing relationships, personal contacts, or direct offers. 
    5. What special challenges do they bring?  Are they known for being "difficult"?  Is their management bad at responding and providing info? Do they miss their at-con obligations? Are there troubling accusations against them? Do they have annoying significant others? Have they pissed off their employer somehow?

    Cost is a big deal, because all things considered, if you're spending $2k minimum on travel/room/board for a guest, you'd rather spend it on a guest who has a draw, who have mission relevance, and who doesn't have a ton of "baggage" to deal with.    

    Just a little insight.


  5. On 1/15/2019 at 3:38 PM, ramenman64 said:

    I'd like to request Nick Landis, Corinne Sudberg, Scott Frerichs, and Curtis Arnott please :)

    I'm going out on a limb here and say there is still a distinction between "guest" and "panelist", which isn't always clear at some smaller events, but which has been pretty consistent at Otakon for many years.  Guests are guests of honor, the names that draw folks to your con, and typically are professionals who have some direct connection to the mission or the industry; panelists typically are fans first, and are not here to support or promote their work or that of their employers. Guests get official status and their travel costs are paid (including fees, where applicable), panelists generally do not get much more than a badge and a place to chill in their downtime.  

    Team Four Star exists in a weird place, because the work they produce is unlicensed parodies of licensed works.  I'm not sure how Ethan feels about it, but I shied away from bringing them as guests because it creates unwanted tension with industry.  Most of their con appearances tend to be "under the radar" -- they're panelists or have a booth someplace. We have had them at Otakon before as panelists, but spotlighting unlicensed works with full "guest of honor" status can be problematic. IIRC, Funi basically ignores the parody works (because they're clearly parody, even if they use enough content to be legally tricky to deal with), but .... 

    The nearest analogy I can come up with is when you pack more than the allowed occupancy in a hotel room.  The hotel really doesn't care too much if you have 6 people in a 4-person room so long as you don't create more work for them with endless towel demands or noise complaints.  But if you draw too much attention, they have to act to protect their bread & butter.


  6. On 11/1/2018 at 5:21 PM, eablack said:

    Hyuna, Daoko, Alan Dawa Dolma, an 18+ panel with any gravure models or hentai writers/voice actors available (autographs afterward hopefully?). In that same vein, also suggesting Marica Hase (first Japanese Penthouse Pet)

    One challenge there is that our contacts are primarily in the animation, gaming, and music industries, and not so much in the world of modeling.  The other is that they’re going to have very little motivation to come.

    When evaluating guests, it’s fairly routine to break down the non-adjustable costs (flights, hotel, etc.) and the negotiable ones. Appearance fees have become more of s thing in recent years, despite the complexities of taxes, payments to overseas agencies, etc.

    Given the same baseline costs (it costs thousands of dollars to bring a guest from Japan, regardless of status), and limited budget, the first question is whether you spend that on someone with broad appeal, or someone with narrower appeal, and the other question is how relevant  that guest is to our mission.  A guest with broad appeal and fantastic relevancy is going to win, but one particularly appealing, or super relevant, would also be a prime selection. 

    There’s really not much particularly unique about scantily dressed girls posing for magazines, honestly, and little to no crossover appeal. The management and business involved isn’t pushing to broaden the audience, as is the case for music, and there isn’t really a compelling cultural argument here.

    And to switch hats, if I were such a model, I can’t see much sense in flying 13 hours each way to be stared at in person by foreigners who don’t buy the magazines I am paid to appear in. Not when I can make bank in Tokyo for personal appearances, during the relatively short window when I am still young and sexy.  (And that’s before you consider the unsavory types  that tend to be involved in those businesses. There are musical acts I was advised to avoid because of Yakuza involvement, and I am certain that would be an issue in the world of adult magazines.)

    If this really interests you, and you think it has broader appeal and something to teach us, start with a panel.  It’s  rare to see a well presented panel covering such content, though I’m sure someone out there could make a good one.  Until then , I don’t see anyone making it a priority, at any broad anime con.

     


  7. On 9/30/2018 at 8:49 AM, Chris Peterson said:

    I would like to request AmaLee/LeeandLie (Amanda Lee). She is a vocalist and voice actress. One of her bigger works is doing vocals for both the Japanese & English versions of Tokyo Ghoul:Re OST "Parabellum":

    https://youtu.be/Vv6gnmI_8Mo

    Voice Actress Dub roles: Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card as Akiho Shinomoto, Overlord II as Crusch Lulu, Grimoire of Zero as Zero, Hinamatsuri as Anzu, Magical Girl Raising Project as Nemurin, and One Piece as Queen Otohime.

    It would be great because she hasn't been up to the North Eastern part of the US so none of the fans around Otakon have been able to meet her without a plane ticket and what not. Whether she's here as a musical act or Voice Actress, either would be amazing and she could easily be in either category. I really really hope we can get her out here. Thanks for considering this post.

    Her official site:

    https://www.leeandlieofficial.com/

    Her Twitter:

    https://twitter.com/AmaAmaLeeLee?s=09

    I know her. One reason her travel was limited for a while was the age of her kid. :)


  8. 20 hours ago, w-deremer said:

    Seiyuu

    ------------------

    Hayashibara Megumi (eternal wish list member #001)

     

    You and me both, buddy.

    We have come fairly close once or twice -- but that's a VERY tough nut to crack for many reasons.

    Closest I got personally was a direct conversation with her manager while she was performing twenty feet away.


  9. 19 hours ago, Krabstarr said:

    Secondly, the absence of the Otakon Game Show for a second year in a row has left a noticeable gap in programming, so I request/suggest bringing in Greg Wicker of Greggo's Game Shows to fill in the gap and present his game shows at Otakon. He is a long time veteran of the convention circuit and puts on anime themed game shows, both replicas of real TV game shows and original games. Some of the game shows, such as All Star Blitz or Hollywood Squares, aside from convention attendees as contestants, involve the participation of guests, making them particularly fun to watch. Another game, Know Your Role, has convention guests playing a game themselves and then answering questions about their previous roles or about their craft, so it makes an interesting alternative to just another Q&A session. Still other games, such as Strikeout, Anime Press Your Luck, or Definition, simply feature the attendee contestants, but are still a fun time for everyone in attendance.

     

    Greg's good, and I don't disagree he'd be an asset.  I'll pass along to the appropriate folks.


  10. On 8/14/2018 at 9:50 PM, UzumakiWarlord said:

    Indeed, regarding Steve Blum.  Especially since he's one of those guests that the staff haven't had for years (the last time he was a guest at Otakon was 2007).  It's the same case with some other guests like Monica Rial, Jamie Marchi, Chuck Huber, and at least a dozen others.

     

    I know I've spoken about this many times, but isn't there anyone on the staff who actually would like to see folks like Steve, Monica, and Jamie come back?  Are they even aware of how long it's been since they've been guests at Otakon?

    I'm sorry, but it's just very annoying and frustrating how it tends to take the staff forever to come around to have certain past guests to come back.  Even if there are some good, and justifiable reasons, it still doesn't change the fact that they've put off bringing certain guests back for too long.

    Despite my complaints, though, I do hope that at least someday the staff will come around to having Steve, Monica, and Jamie come back.  And just about any other previous guest that they haven't had for so long.  Where's the love for those people?

    Guys, Steve's a personal friend as well as a great guest. He likes our event. We had him at Otakon Vegas a few years back, and he snuck by the following year to surprise us. Monica Rial was one of the first guests who left me a voicemail, nearly 15 years ago. We aren't ignoring your repeated requests -- but you have to understand that it's not about the staff "coming around". It's about bringing a mix of guests who appeal to particular groups or tie into particular properties, as well as some veterans that are good value throughout.

    AND we're competing with production schedules and other commitments, and we're balancing cost and value. And we're competing with dozens of other shows.

    Wanting a guest does not guarantee the guest is available, or affordable, or in synch with what the industry is promoting or what's launching at any given moment.  Staff wanting a guest doesn't make it happen either -- there are plenty of folks I consider personal friends who simply aren't the right fit for a particular year, or can't make the scheduling work. 

    For example, we've been talking to Kawamori for years and this was the first time everything lined up properly.  It happens.

      I'm sure all of them will be here again.


  11.  

    Will there be any autograph sessions for Chris and Sean?

     

    Was wondering the same thing.

    Alabaster - Able to shed any light on this? And or what the description of "Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F OFFICIAL" is on the schedule?

     

     

    They'll be signing exclusively at the Funimation booth, as they are entirely sponsored by Funimation.  We'll try to post any other info we have.

     

    As for DBZ:  If we got a description, it should be posted into the schedule.  That's the big show-based panel and you can expect them to be at that.

    Apologies, folks, it's been a roller coaster as usual and i've spent most of my waking hours at work or doing Otakon stuff, so I've left you high and dry once the guests were announced.

     

    Sorry!


  12. This might be something you are still working out, but with Pony Canyon bringing them both over, are Seiji Kishi and Shinji Takamatsu going to be doing a joint signing session or separate ones?

    Probably separate as they are promoting separate properties. 


  13. Appreciate the thoughts as to how well the semi-offsite areas worked last year. The feedback is helpful.

     

    Rest assured we are giving plenty of thought to where and how we manage autographs, but bear in mind that the biggest issues involve lining-up space, and there is simply not enough of that to go around. Because y'all are a little crazy. :)

     

    As with the past few years, while the general autograph policy will remain in place, there may be specifics for particular guests that we will alert you to once we've finalized all the schedules and space usage planning.

     

    There's a part of me that will REALLY enjoy having room in DC to consider other options for the autographs area....


  14.  

    I knew it.

    The Garo director was a huge hint.

    Kinda thinking that way too once I read her involvement in that show.

     

    If Funi is indeed the one that helped bring Park to Otakon, then they definitely outdid themselves this year with not only her, but also the English voices of Goku and Vegeta (now if only Otakon could have gotten the guests that Japan Expo has in store this year).

     

     

    Funimation brought us Sean and Chris, as their bios state. They weren't involved in any other guests.

     

    Garo is produced by MAPPA, which is Maruyama-san's company.  Those guests came via our good relationship with him.

     

    For Romi Park, we've actually tried to bring her a few other times, but the timing hasn't worked out -- she is after all one of the busiest seiyuu out there.  This year it worked out, and we're very happy about that.

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